Filed:December 5th, 2008
Atlanta Braves (Cubbie Nation/File)
Frank Wren just went to the top of my favorite GMs list.
First, he quickly excavated himself from the prolonged Jake Peavy discussion, rather than compromise organizational philosophy and lose top assets. Now, he makes my week with a mini-megatrade, with the Sox sending Javier Vasquez to the Braves, in exchange for a bunch of talent that Atlanta really wasn't all that interested in. I love it.
Call me a fan of the trade as well, if only because I don't have to listen to Ozzie Guillen and the Chicago media whip on Javy like he's got a tail anymore. Personally, I think general manager Kenny Williams is still miffed about giving up Chris Young for him, but hey, those are the breaks.
Vasquez has always struck me as ridiculously overrated though. The stats are there, but he's never been the guy to give the ball too when you had to get a win. Ever. Yet, he gets paid like it, the media mostly treats him that way, and GMs continue to drool -- at least until they spend a few seasons with him. Even Bobby Cox had this to say:
I consider Javy [Vazquez] to be an elite pitcher. His stuff is way above average and he's a great athlete. ... I think it's a tremendous deal for the Braves to have Javy in our uniform.
To paraphrase Treebeard, "A manager should know better!" Vasquez is who he is; a strong innings-eater, who will never be the centerpiece of a staff.
In return though, they got a true Kenny Williams player back in Tyler Flowers. A big-butted, strong, lumbering basher who should rocket balls out of US Cellular with regularity, and as early as in 2010.
From the scouting reports, he probably will never see a day at catcher, but with both the Konerko and Thome contracts expiring in less than two seasons, he could be a real fixture at first base. All in all, I like it both teams -- albeit with the slight edge to Atlanta.
And for the record, I'm starting to get really excited about the Braves in 2009. If they can land A.J. Burnett as rumored, I'd certainly consider them the NL East frontrunners for next season.
Meanwhile, in an example of how not to compose a team, the Giants committed almost 20 million to a well-into-decline-phase Edgar Renteria, signing him to a two-year deal. This after paying 3 million to sign Bob Howry earlier in the week.
I think you have to at least have a patch of grey hair just to get GM Brian Sabean to take your agent's call. I mean, I sort of get it. Some guys just aren't meant for the American League, and I'd say that Edgar is at the top of that list. So, I'm confident that he'll bounce back offensively somewhat in 2009. But his defense really has been as bad as they say, and hitting him in the two-hole seems overly optimistic. He is an upgrade, but at these prices, it's just robbery.
The funny thing is, the Giants are quietly putting themselves into a position to be competitive in 2009. The NL West is starting to look pretty watered down for next season, and if they can get a little more offense, and Howry bounces back in the bullpen, they should be in the mix.
Back in Chicago with the Cubs though, everyone is waiting breathlessly for the consumation of the Jake Peavy deal. I'm making this a Peavy free post however, because frankly 1) I now think it will actually happen, and 2) I'm still hoping it won't.
Speaking of pitching, Paul Sullivan thinks that Chad Gaudin is a non-tender candidate. And this is why I avoid Paul Sullivan. Putting aside the question of why a major-market team would non-tender a decent swingman as opposed to say, trading him—I mean we're talking about a few million bucks here for a fifth starter option—it flies somewhat at odds with Lou Piniella's public comments to date.
From the right side, we picked up Gregg from the Marlins, but we're going to have to have a guy like (Chad) Gaudin pitch well for us. And (Kevin) Hart, (Angel) Guzman ... we're going to have some young people that are going to have to come through for us, too.
Me thinks he stays; at least until the Cubs hammer out their starting rotation question marks.
Chad Fox signs a minor-league deal this week; again. Enough already. I understand why the club did it, but I've had to endure two Chad Fox tenures in Chicago, and I'm convinced that his shoulder is now held together by stickum and scotchtape. Couldn't you just have offered him a roving instructor job instead? He's 36, you know. I lay odds at 50-50 that his arm literally falls off in Spring Training.
And let's not forget VERY old pitchers, and give Comcast analyst Dan Plesac a proper sendoff. He's taking a position with MLB Network, and I'm sure that he'll be fantastic. Dan arrived at Comcast in 2004, and has proven himself over the last few years to be one of the brighter analysts in baseball, in my opinion.
I know I'm crossing sports here, but you need only look at his work as opposed to say, Jerry Azumah for Bears football with the same network to see the difference. Best wishes.
Meanwhile, what I think is the one of the more interesting developments this week is the Yankees declining arbitration to Bobby Abreu, which was almost as certain as Christmas just a month ago. Yo'all know I'm a fan, although I acknowledged that the likelihood of he and the Cubs being a match was remote.
However with a declining market, I sense that closers and corner outfielders are the ones who are really going to feel the burn. At 12-16 million per, I'd say keep on looking, Jim Hendry. But if the price starts dropping into the 8-10 range, or heaven forbid he'd agree to a one-year deal to let the market reset, well...
Lastly, this week brought news that Henry Blanco's brother died, a victim of a botched kidnapping attempt. My condolences and thoughts are with the Blanco family. Kidnapping has been something of a cottage industry in parts of South America for years now, and I've joked with visiting friends about the merits of a bodyguard while visiting there in the past.
The fact is, it's not funny, and the danger to South American players and their families is unfortunately all too real. They're way too visible, well-known, and rich—relative to the remaining population—for them in many cases to genuinely be safe.
I was horrified at the kidnapping of Ugeuth Urbina's mother a few years ago, and I thought that was the worst. I was wrong. May Carlos rest in peace